A project of the Issaquah Historical Society, the initial phase of the Issaquah Valley Trolley Project introduced weekend trolley rides in Issaquah during an 18-month period during 2001-02.
The trolley operated over about one mile of the former Burlington Northern rail line that passes through the heart of Issaquah’s downtown, with the city’s restored railway depot serving as the terminus.
An emerging suburb of Seattle, Issaquah is suffering from the same congestion problems that have plagued other former rural villages turned suburbs.
The complete build-out of the trolley plan, which would be a two-mile operation from the boat launch entrance to Lake Sammamish State Park, is seen as a way to help alleviate the shortage of downtown parking and begin to address general peak-hour immobility.
History: When the track was taken up from the abandoned BN line in 1998, the City of Issaquah was successful in its efforts to keep the rails in place on the section through town.
Local streetcar boosters also pooled their resources and purchased two miles worth of track materials from the salvage company that was removing the line.
In July 1999, the City negotiated an outright purchase of the short section of in-town track and right-of-way from the Land Conservancy of Seattle-King County.
The remainder of the right-of-way is being “rail banked”, and will be transformed into a public trail, with the possibility of reversion to rail use held for the future.
Simultaneously, IHS began a search for a suitable trolley car. They were able to locate a single-truck Portuguese car in Yakima, Washington, where trolley operations had been idled.
The car was leased to Issaquah for a period of 18 months. The group began weekend operations in May, 2001 and operated the car using a tow-behind generator for power (there is no overhead wire).
A carbarn was also built to house the car. The Yakima car was returned in 2002, and the group subsequently acquired two other cars in order to once again offer the community an operating trolley.
In November 2011, a contract was awarded to the Gomaco Trolley Company to restore one of these cars. The job was completed in August 2012 and the car returned to Issaquah for testing.
Service is scheduled to begin in October 2012.
Subsequent phases of the trolley project call for extension of the line the two miles to the boat launch entrance to Lake Sammamish State Park.
When the rails were pulled out in 1998, the scrapper donated the crossing signal equipment, which has been left in place along this section of the line.
IHS and the City are also studying how the trolley might fit into other regional transportation plans.
IHS has a very nice web site, including details of the trolley operation along with plans for future expansion.
Railway preservation vintage trolley issaquah